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Monday is the last day for Medicare open enrollment

Monday is the last day to do that outside of a possible special enrollment period.

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Every year, Congress sets aside an open enrollment period for eligible seniors and disabled persons to change their Medicare prescription drug benefit plan, Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans. Monday is the last day to do that, outside of a possible special enrollment period.

If you are Medicare-eligible and did not sign up for either Medicare Part B or the prescription drug benefit, Monday is also the last day to do that for the 2021 year.

Medicare is a government health benefit for persons 65 years old or older as well as for disabled people who have been receiving SSI benefits for one year or more. Supplemental Security Income is a federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenues not Social Security taxes designed to help aged, blind and disabled people, who have little or no income.

Do you have questions about your Medicare benefits or do you need help understanding your Medicare Summary Notice? The state of Alabama provides assistance to seniors with Medicare counseling through the State Health Insurance Program. SHIP provides free assistance, and they work for the state of Alabama, not an insurance company. Their services are free.

Through SHIP you can get answers to your questions about Medicare, Medigap, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, Long-term care insurance and other health insurance programs for seniors. SHIP provides information and materials designed to assist Medicare beneficiaries in specific areas such as home health benefits, Medicare claims and appeals, and other similar issues; assistance in understanding your Medicare and other health insurance benefits; referrals to other program or agencies, when appropriate; and group presentations by SHIP counselors on a variety of health insurance topics.

KEPRO is contracted by Medicare as the Beneficiary and Family Centered Care Quality Improvement Organization. They offer information and assistance to providers, and to Medicare recipients and their families, about beneficiary complaints, discharge appeals and immediate advocacy.

For more information, contact the SHIP in your area by calling your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) and Aging & Disability Resource Center (ADRC) at 1-800-Ageline (1-800-243-5463). You can contact Alabama SHIP at 334-242-5743 or 1-877-425-2243 or by email at [email protected]

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There are numerous different Medicare Prescription Drug plans available. You can comparison shop your Medicare drug plans online.

We are now also in open enrollment for health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but the deadline to purchase or change coverage there is Dec. 15.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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Medicare Open Enrollment began Saturday, Oct.15, and will remain open until Dec. 7.